Arts&Culture

Where now for Julian Assange?

Where now for Julian Assange?

ECUADOR'S government has said it will step up efforts to ensure Julian Assange is allowed to travel to the South American which granted him asylum in 2012, after Swedish prosecutors suddenly dropped a seven-year investigation into the WikiLeaks founder.

At a press conference Friday in Stockholm, Ny, chief of the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said she "has chose to discontinue the investigation" and call back the European arrest warrant for Assange.

Though Assange's lawyer declared the dropped charges a "total victory" for his client, Assange remains unable to leave the embassy without the threat of arrest.

British police could arrest him immediately for breaching earlier bail conditions if he left the building, while United States authorities have warned they regard WikiLeaks as a "hostile intelligence service".

The accusation against Assange dated from August 2010 when the alleged victim, who says she met him at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm a few days earlier, filed a complaint.

The transparency advocate left no question about his disgust with the governments working to jail him in a series of comments Friday.

"Seven years without charge while my children grew up without me. The war, the proper war, is just commencing", a pale-looking Assange said told a crowd of reporters and a handful of supporters brandishing placards assembled under the balcony.

"It is a scandal that a suspected rapist can escape justice and thereby avoid the courts", attorney Elisabeth Fritz, said in a statement.

"Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, has today chose to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape by Julian Assange", the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Samuelsson also said that the decision meant Assange "is free to leave the embassy whenever he wants", though he later told the TT news agency that he did not know when Assange might leave.

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US intelligence agencies also contend Russian Federation used WikiLeaks to publish emails by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during last year's USA presidential election.

Most uncertain for Assange is whether the United States has issued a secret arrest and extradition warrant in connection with his assistance to Chelsea Manning, who was released from prison this week after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, in stealing and revealing U.S. secrets.

"The road is far from over". British police say they still intend to arrest him, if he leaves the Ecuadorean Embassy. British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that "any decision that is taken about United Kingdom action in relation to him (Assange) would be an operational matter for the police". Ny has already said that she will swiftly reinstate the case if Assange returns to Sweden.

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There were initially two separate allegations being investigated, but one was dropped in 2015 because the statute of limitations ran out.

In his ten-minute speech, Assange also pointed to the release of the American whistleblower and former US Army soldier Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) who landed in prison after she leaked almost 750,000 military files and cables to WikiLeaks.

But London's Metropolitan Police added that Assange is now wanted for a "much less serious offense" than the original sex crimes claims, so police "will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense".

She accused him of having sex with her as she slept without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex.

Assange has said that all the sex was consensual.


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